Letter From the Director of Alumni Engagement

Letter from the Director of Alumni Engagement

“It is quality rather than quantity that matters.”

Variations of this quote are attributed to different people, but we’ve all heard it before—perhaps regarding our friendships, pairs of shoes in our closet or other things we might count or value.

When I was considering what to share with you in this issue’s letter, and I started thinking about all the alumni who have engaged with Whitman since my last writing, I was struck first by the quantity. There were many! Then, considering the quality of those interactions reinforced what I knew to be true: at Whitman, we are fortunate to have both.

After the last issue went to print, we hosted our Whitman Advisory Council (WAC) and Young Whitman Advisory Council (YWAC) on campus for their fall meetings. The councils, which have over 100 people, reflect the quantity and quality, and the impact of these advisors—and the members of our department boards—can’t be overstated. They read lengthy reports, sit in on Zoom meetings, provide thoughtful counsel, share industry insights, give generously, open doors of employment and show up for students, as many did in November. How lucky were the students who had breakfast with council members who represent leading firms and have collectively amassed centuries of extraordinary careers? I can tell you, however, that the advisors counted themselves lucky to have spent time with the future leaders.

As we moved through the fall semester, alumni continued to engage and give back as Capstone judges, classroom lecturers and guest speakers. And, while those interactions were taking place, Whitman staff and faculty were liaising with dozens of other alumni to make plans for the January 2022 Whitman in NYC career trips and short courses that we were so glad to have back in person after virtual programming in January 2021. But, the Omicron variant had other plans and forced yet another January of virtual career programming, and our alumni pivoted with us!

The number of alumni who host students at their firms, sit on panels, lecture and attend networking events during that January week in New York City each year is impressive. The quality of the opportunities made possible by the alumni is immeasurable. Despite having to be  virtual, 135 alumni gave their time and shared their perspectives with students via Zoom.

With the spring semester well underway, the number—and impact—of alumni interactions this academic year have continued to grow. Nine virtual IMPRESS industry panels (one for each of our undergraduate majors) gave more than 200 students the chance to learn about the career journeys of 46 alumni. For several of the alumni, the panel was their first time engaging with students, while many familiar alumni friends also made time for students this semester by participating in various student engagement events hosted through the Whitman Leadership Scholars, Future Leaders, and the Multicultural and First-Generation Student programs.

A more favorable COVID climate than we faced in January allowed us to finally hit the road with students for New York City spring break career trips in March. Dozens of alumni stepped up to host site visits, sit on panels and attend networking events. You can get a glimpse of the impact of these career exploration trips (and the joy of finally being in the Big Apple) from the photos on the opposite page.

In addition to all the alumni interactions I’ve mentioned, many, many more happen every day under the radar when an alum reaches out about an opening at his/her firm or another responds to a student’s LinkedIn message.

Whether an alum is engaging for the first time or for more times than we can count, the time spent is meaningful to our students. From panels to career trips to Zoom chat rooms, interactions with our dedicated alumni are significant in both quantity and quality. Every college student should be as fortunate as ours.

With gratitude,
Alison Kessler
Director of Alumni Engagement